Driving inclusivity in the games industry

Article written by Andy Turton, Director of X4 Technology.

The games industry has experienced tremendous growth globally and is now a legitimate entertainment medium and a booming industry. Nearly half of all global gamers are women but the representation of females in the games themselves are much lower. Gender representation and equality is an issue that has been the focus of much inquiry and consideration in the gaming community.

New data from the University of Sheffield, shows that things are changing. Backed by games industry trade body Ukie, it conducted a census of more than 3,200 game developers in Britain, and discovered a young and increasingly diverse workforce. The researchers found that two-thirds of the UK’s game development workforce is 35 or under; 28% are women and 2% non-binary; 10% come from BAME backgrounds; 28% come from somewhere other than the UK; and 21% identify as LGBTQ.

In 2009, according to the International Game Developers Association, only 11.5% of game developers identified as female so the number of women involved in all areas of the games industry has been creeping upwards.

I have been speaking to female leaders in the industry who feel that gaming is behind other areas of entertainment and there is a lot to be done to achieve more inclusivity in the industry. In my recent  interview with Georgina Felce, Studio Operations Manager at Big Pixel Studio, she shares how the career paths in gaming aren’t communicated clearly enough and how gaming studios must work alongside educational institutes to continue producing top gaming talent that’s ready to jump straight into the industry.

Check out the full interview below.

Where do you think the gaming industry could make initiatives to make more access points for careers in the gaming industry?

The industry needs to work with education a lot more, from schools and universities to parents. I don’t think gaming as a career when you are younger is taken seriously by parents in comparison to if you wanted to be a lawyer, but it’s a huge industry where there’s lots of money to be made.

We need to do more outreach and promote the university courses that are out there as lots of them don’t have a great rep in the industry as they don’t teach what we practice. It’s gaming studios’ responsibility to share their knowledge to help more people get into the industry.

We also need to send more BAME and female individuals into universities and schools to chat about the career opportunities and showcase the different types of people that work in the industry.

Do you think individuals should pursue existing computer science degrees, or computer science degrees, or actively seek out new gaming courses and alternative routes into the industry?

I think the industry should work more with higher education establishments to rework their framework. The industry needs to do more paid apprenticeships and internships, so people learn about how to work in a studio, which is a big part of it.

I think Abertay University do it well as they produce a lot of great gaming talent that is ready to move on into the wider industry. We need to build bonds with universities to create more opportunities in the workforce.

What advice would you have for individuals just starting out in the industry?

My advice would be that if you see a job that interests you, apply for it. I know that statistically women are less likely to apply for jobs if they don’t meet all the criteria.

As and when events start happening again, there are lots of free events to attend that are great for networking. Take people that you know with you so you can go and meet new people. The industry’s very small so if you attend events, you’re bound to start seeing people you recognise which will make it easier to approach them.

Understand your transferrable skills. There are obviously hard skills that you need in disciplines, but there are also lots of transferrable ones such as people skills that you can practice outside of your education.

As a female figure what do you think helps you in the industry?
  • Emotional intelligence is a really underestimated skill. You must be able to get the best out of all the different people you work with.
  • Adaptability is important, being able to adapt your working techniques to get the best out of people is a great skill to harness.
  • Show you’re passionate about the industry. If you come into an interview and you can only really show what you know from university, that’s fine, but it’s definitely worthwhile to show you know about the community, industry and studio that you want to work for.
  • Conflict resolution. It’s a creative industry so there’s going creative conflict but being able to work your way through that without feeling like you’re hurting people emotionally.

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